In a day where TV executives cancel shows with a hint of intelligence and creativity after only a few episodes, becoming one of the longest running TV shows can be considered a grand achievement. How many times have you cursed a network executive's name and violently ripped your new LCD television from the living room wall and tossed it through the front window because they cancelled your favorite new show? If you were or are a fan of any these TV series, your television probably lasted as long as these primetime shows:
"60 Minutes" (1968-present): This is the show which pioneered all newsmagazine shows and paved the way for 24 hour cable news channels dominated by conservative fear-mongers and liberal nut-jobs. Everything about "60 Minutes" is imitated from Mike Wallace ambushing interview subjects with hardboiled questions and chasing them down with TV cameras to Andy Rooney griping like your senile grandpa about how nothing is like the good ol' days.
"Monday Night Football" (1970-present): Are you ready for some football? Before ESPN stole it away, this was the one show that made ABC worth watching. Although, it is hard to figure out why Hank Williams, Jr. is kept around to sing the theme song. There are better singers out there. Better sounding and better looking. Why prop up his career when you can make like NBC and get someone like Faith Hill who is much easier on the eyes and ears?
"20/20" (1978-present): This Friday night staple served as a launching pad for Barbara Walters and her annual celebrity worship specials where she asks stimulating questions about what tree a particular celebrity would be if they were actually a tree.
"The Ed Sullivan Show" (1948-1971): This is the man who introduced the world to the Beatles, the Jackson 5 and other notable music and comedy acts. He redefined our collective idea of what constitutes a really big show.
"48 Hours" (1988-present): A news magazine with an identity crisis. It changes formats more than most people change their clothes. The latest version has tacked "Mystery" on its title so CBS reporters can drive around in their news vans solving mysteries like a real-life Scooby gang.
"COPS" (1988-present): This is a must-see Saturday night staple for anyone who enjoys watching cops chase around drugged-out, half-naked rednecks in a different city each week.
"The Simpsons" (1989-present): This popular cartoon series has reshaped our lexicon and infused every element of pop culture. You know a show is iconic when virtually anyone famous thinks it is cool to make a guest appearance just so a bunch of cartoon characters can mock them. D'oh!
"The Red Skeleton Show" (1951-1971): Red Skeleton could climb further up the list if you counted the years he spent on the radio with this same program. This was the TV equivalent of a cult of personality, with Skeleton relying on his own collection of zany characters to drive the show.
"Gunsmoke" (1955 -1975): Another radio program turned TV show, this iconic western spawned countless imitators. It arrived at the height of popularity for the Western and almost lasted long enough to see the genre complete the death march toward obscurity.
"Law and Order" (1990-2010): Is a series really cancelled if they simply tweak the same handful of scripts and regurgitate them on countless spinoffs? Now there is "Law and Order: SVU," "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," "Law and Order: Los Angeles" and "Law and Order: UK." It will never die. It will just change forms. Look for "Law and Order: Outer Space" and "Law and Order: 90210" to soon pop up on a TV screen near you.
- John Coon